England’s Test series against South Africa did not go as planned as they fell to a 2-1 defeat and there was plenty for head coach Eddie Jones to take away from the three performances; some positives and some negatives.
England has endured a five-Test losing run, but that was ended in spectacular fashion as they beat the Springboks 25-10 in the final Test on Saturday.
After such a poor Six Nations campaign this year, it was crucial for the England side to get back on track during the tour but after losing their opening two tests, defeat was confirmed.
Jones knows that if England are to challenge for the World Cup next year, then his team will need to beat some of the best sides in the world so plenty needs to be addressed before then.
Here are a few things that we learned from England’s tour of South Africa:
Eddie Jones needs to keep himself grounded
Head coach Eddie Jones is under pressure regarding his job for the first time and he probably needs to change his ways if England are to have a successful World Cup. Prior to the series, Jones publicly claimed that he wants his side to win 3-0, which added so much un-wanted pressure. It was typical of Jones, who is always ambitious and confident regardless of the opponent, but he may need to re-think making such statements in the future.
Jonny May nails down starting spot
The right-wing position may well and truly belong to Jonny May after some brilliant performances during the series. May hasn’t always been favoured by Jones, but after scoring three tries and assisting another three, he should be one of the first names in the starting line up at the World Cup.
Danny Cipriani shows his class
Cipriani returned to international rugby after 10 years and settled in effortlessly in what was a very impressive performance from the fly-half. Cipriani was effective, assured and confident in the third Test and it begs the question, why was he not called upon during the first two? The England coaches have always feared that Cipriani switches off during games, but there was none of that on Saturday.
England lacked mental strength after giving up two leads
England blew a 21 point lead in the first test and a 12 point lead in the second test, which was disappointing for Jones. When leading by 21, they seemed to take their foot off the gas and allowed the Springboks a way back into the game. Their failure to see out a match cost them twice, and Jones knows that it is definitely an area to work on ahead of the World Cup.
Senior players stepped up in final match
England’s senior players stepped up their performances to break their five-match run of test defeats. The head coach was full of praise for captain Owen Farrell, as well as Chris Robshaw and Ben Youngs, who all handled the big moments well in the final test. Jones needs these players to be on top form every game if England want to do well in the future.
Bench made little impact
One thing that Jones wants to improve is the strength of his squad. Although his starting side looks strong, when they need some inspiration from the bench, there’s not much to turn to. It’s a similar story to what happened at the Six Nations. The players coming on from the bench could not change the team’s performances.
Final test could be a sign of things to come
England looked a totally different side in the final test and will be looking for more performances of that nature in the future. Jones believes the win has made his side “stronger” and that although they lost the series, the final test win has given his team a huge lift. England will be back in action in November for Test matches against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia and they’ll want to play how they did on Saturday.